St Charles Streetcar Riders’ Guide: My New Orleans
There are few things more quintessentially New Orleans than riding the St Charles streetcar and admiring the gorgeous scenery rolling by. We got the chance to ride it recently as part of our homeschool co-op transportation unit. We had no fewer than eleven (yes, 11!) children eight and under with us and had a ball! It was a successful ride all the way around, with coffee, playgrounds, and ice cream involved. Enjoy your own day out with our St Charles Streetcar Riders’ Guide!
Where does the St Charles Streetcar go?
The St Charles streetcar, line 12, is one of several streetcar lines that service New Orleans, but it is the most popular and well known. Its route runs between downtown near Canal Place, all the way to S. Carrollton at S. Claiborne in Uptown.
Unless you’re starting your St Charles streetcar trip from your downtown hotel, you will need to first find street parking. It is free, and not usually too hard to find, but it is more plentiful further down St Charles. A friend showed us that trick, and we easily found parking for all three of us between Joseph St and Octavia! (Bonus: it was right next to Danneel Park Playground for our lunch picnic.)
Cost & Tickets
Streetcar fare is $1.25 each time you board, and if you’re paying cash, you need to have exact change ready. However, I highly recommend that you download the RTA app and purchase the $3 Jazzy pass, which gives you unlimited streetcar rides for 24 hours from your first use. This gives you the freedom to hop on and hop off St Charles as many times as you like for exploring and eating. No need to scan anything, just tap the “board” button and let the conductor see your phone screen. You can show/activate all the passes you purchased at the same time (i.e., everyone in your party’s), which makes this especially handy for a crowd/riding with kids. Children ages 2 and under ride free. You are allowed to bring collapsed strollers on the streetcar, but unless you’re planning to really do that much walking, I think it’s easier not to fool with it.
Getting Around the St Charles Streetcar
All of the St Charles streetcar stops are marked in blue on Google maps, which makes it handy to see where you are. Even better, you can also use Google maps to see what time the next streetcar is coming to your stop (very handy if you’re wondering whether you should hurry or chill in the shade). Here’s how you can see that information (in the example below I’m showing you the Robert St. stop because that’s where you get off for The Creole Creamery. V. v. important to know. See below for more info. 😉
1. Find your desired stop on the map (note all the blue stops). If you know your stop already, you can type it in: e.g. “St Charles at Robert”, or else just tap on the blue streetcar stop.
2. Tap on the line at the bottom to pull up the stop information (circled in red).
3. Tap it again (circled in red) to pull up the streetcar schedule: it tells you what time the next few are scheduled to arrive.
4. Snag the streetcar you want, show the conductor your pass, and hop on and find a seat! Next to a window is the best spot.
Be sure you’re standing right next to the sign to board; the stop isn’t always at exactly the same spot on the street for each direction, and they won’t stop if you’re not standing next to the sign.
Where to Stop on the St Charles Streetcar Route
When you’re ready to get off: Pull the cord that runs along the top of the windows to let the conductor know that you’d like to get off at the next stop (I suggest doing it once you’ve left the previous stop, to give the conductor plenty of notice).
It’s worth riding the St Charles streetcar to just see the miles of gorgeous houses under the lush canopy of oaks, but if you want to make it an even better day out with some excellent food, here are our current recommended stops along the way: they’re arranged in geographical order, starting closest to downtown to furthest away, or roughly east to west. (If you’re using the Jazzy Pass mentioned above, you can visit as many of these as your stomach can, um, stomach!)
- Mais Arepas: Columbian food: get off at the Erato stop and head one block north and one block west. (See a review here. Post from us coming soon!)
- Pascal’s Manale: elegant, traditional, classic New Orleans fare and setting: get off at the Napoleon St. stop and walk three blocks north. You can then end your meal two blocks west at:
- French Truck Coffee on Dryades St: get off at at the Cadiz St. stop and head three blocks north.
- Creole Creamery and/or St. James Cheese Company: get off at the Robert St. stop and go an easy two blocks south.
- If you want to ride the streetcar all the way to the end of St Charles for some delicious Thai, get off at the S. Carrollton Ave. stop and head to Bangkok Thai. I love their Param Chicken, a curry peanut sauce over steamed broccoli, rice, and cabbage, a dish that you can’t find at all Thai restaurants!
I hope that you enjoy riding the St Charles streetcar as much as we did! Drop us a line and let us know!